Tag: The Atlantic (page 1 of 14)

Crypto clowns

If you’re at the top of the Ponzi scheme pyramid, you have a vested interest in keeping it going…

Not coincidentally, the companies doing the least reflecting are the ones with their hands deepest in the cookie jar. Part of what spurred on the current crash was a cryptocurrency called TerraUSD, a type of so-called stablecoin designed to more or less equal the value of the U.S. dollar. The whole point of stablecoins is that they’re supposed to be less volatile than other cryptocurrencies, a way of protecting your money while still keeping your chips in the casino. That was the idea, at least: TerraUSD was tied to another cryptocurrency called Luna, and when its value plummeted in early May, investors promptly dumped their TerraUSD. Tokens meant to sell for $1 a pop were suddenly trading for almost nothing, and, according to Bloomberg, $60 billion of investors’ money was zapped away.

[…]

As the wider crypto market has tanked in the weeks since the Terra collapse, other flailing companies have been similarly unwilling to publicly reflect on the damage. The crypto lender Celsius Network made it big by promising yields much higher than those of traditional bank accounts. That approach generated gobs of money when crypto was booming, but apparently it hasn’t fared so well during the downturn. As rumors began to circulate about Celsius’s financial issues, the company’s founder, Alex Mashinsky, dismissed it all as “FUD,” crypto shorthand for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” “Do you know even one person who has a problem withdrawing from Celsius?” he tweeted. Just over 24 hours later, the company put a freeze on all withdrawals, locking customers out of their accounts. (The freeze remains in place almost two weeks later.)

[…]

Throughout the industry, there’s a sense from the biggest players in crypto that if we all just keep the faith, traders can effectively spend their way out of the crisis. Cameron Winklevoss, the billionaire co-founder of the crypto exchange Gemini, recently tweeted that the bitcoin dip feels “irrational,” because “the underlying fundamentals, adoption, and infrastructure have never been stronger.” It’s not a question of fundamentals, though; asking people to look more closely at the tech will not somehow end the bear market. A few days ago, Michael Saylor, whose software company, MicroStrategy, has spent billions of dollars acquiring bitcoin, called the cryptocurrency “a lifeboat, tossed on a stormy sea, offering hope to anyone in the world that needs to get off their sinking ship.” But right now, bitcoin is the sinking ship.

Source: Crypto Is Crashing. Have the Crypto Bosses Learned Anything At All? | The Atlantic

The omnishambles of Brexit

The UK is a pretty bad place to live at the moment. Except for the US, and well a lot of other places. I guess what I’m saying is that things are pretty bad politically and in terms of economically, but then the rest of the world is pretty screwed as well.

Union Flag with arrows going in different directions

Britain today is a poor and divided country. Parts of London and the southeast of England might be among the wealthiest places on the planet, but swaths of northern England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are among Western Europe’s poorest. Barely a decade ago, the average Brit was as wealthy as the average German. Now they are about 15 percent poorer—and 30 percent worse off than the typical American.

[…]

In the 2016 Brexit referendum and then in the 2019 general election, Johnson offered voters the chance to “take back control” of their destiny, to rebalance the country and to pull it together again. On both occasions, he won.

Six years on, however, we can safely say his project is failing. His government is busy trying to wrest back more control rather than exercising what it has regained. It has not united the country. It has not even begun to level it up.

The truth is, this government won’t accomplish any of that. Until Britain stops trying to restore a vanished past—whether the one imagined by its pro-Brexit Leavers or its anti-Brexit Remainers—and begins to construct a viable future, the country as a whole never will.

Source: What Brexit Promised, and Boris Johnson Failed to Deliver | The Atlantic

Ancient cynicism

As with stoicism, we’ve lost the ancient meaning of the word ‘cynicism’. I think you can probably tell a lot about how much love I have for Diogenes given that I named my phone after him (I name all my devices so I can easily identify them on wifi networks, etc.)

Image of half-full and half-empty cups

The original cynicism was a philosophical movement likely founded by Antisthenes, a student of Socrates, and popularized by Diogenes of Sinope around the fifth century B.C. It was based on a refusal to accept the assumptions and habits that discourage people from questioning conventional dogmas, and thus hold us back from the search for deep wisdom and happiness. Whereas a modern cynic might say, for instance, that the president is an idiot and thus his policies aren’t worth considering, the ancient cynic would examine each policy impartially.

The modern cynic rejects things out of hand (“This is stupid”), while the ancient cynic simply withholds judgment (“This may be right or wrong”).

[…]

To pivot from the modern to the ancient, I recommend focusing each day on several original cynical concepts, none of which condemns the world but all of which lead us to question, and in many cases reject, worldly conventions and practices.

  1. Eudaimonia (“satisfaction”)
  2. Askesis (“discipline”)
  3. Autarkeia (“self-sufficiency”)
  4. Kosmopolites (“cosmopolitanism”)

Source: We’ve Lost the True Meaning of Cynicism | The Atlantic